Monday, June 22, 2015

Congratulations Class of 2014-2015

The University of Maryland Dietetic Internship held their graduation of their 10 interns on Friday, June 19th.   Prior to graduation, 2 interns had already accepted jobs!  We wish the class of 2015-2016 in their future careers as RD's! 

The graduation speaker this year was Angela Leone, a 2009-2010 program graduate and  senior nutritionist at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  Thanks to Angela for speaking at graduation.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner

During my 5-week rotation at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), my internship partner Megan and I had the unique and exciting opportunity to participate in the Healthy Lunch Time Challenge (HLC). The HLC and Kids’ State Dinner is a competition that promotes cooking and healthy eating among kids and their families across America. Kids between the ages of 8-12 years old were invited to submit an original, healthy recipe that followed MyPlate nutritional guidelines. Our role in this challenge was to help narrow down contestants' chosen for the final judging, and to assist in the final taste testing of the recipes.

Criteria used to determine contest winners included:
  • Nutritional value
  • Taste 
  • Creativity 
  • Originality 
  • Affordability 
  • An essay accompanying the recipe

Tanya Steel, CEO of Cooking up Big Dreams and Kids’ New World and creator of the HLC, taste-testing a Finalist dish 
Megan and I narrowed down hundreds of contestant entries, leaving two finalists from each of the 50 U.S. states and territories. We were then invited to attend the first round of judging at the DC Convention Center with our wonderful directors at CNPP, Jackie Haven and Shelley Maniscalco. For the fourth year in a row, D.C. Central Kitchen’s (DCCK) were chosen to cook, assemble, and plate 108 dishes, all within a 3-hour judging period. Dishes were rated on a scale of 1-5 using each of the criteria listed above. One winner from each state has been chosen to attend the Kids’ State Dinner hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House this summer. 

DCCK staff
It was beneficial for us to get a taste—pun intended, of what children across America are eating. We were impressed with the amount of thought that went into these recipes and that many of the children were able to incorporate all five food groups into their dish. The experience allowed us to visualize and brainstorm new ways in which we as future RD’s can influence trends and eating patterns of the youth in our country. Having the opportunity to observe a strong leader like Steel manage a large-scale event, revolved around food, was both empowering and inspiring. Steel commented that the contest has come a long way since the first year and has overcome many barriers, enabling it to run seamlessly. 

Megan and I took away many positive memories and learned lessons from our time participating in the contest. Most importantly was the impression and influence left on the kids that will hopefully help build a foundation for healthy eating habits for years to come. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Renal Rotation

The renal rotation at Independent Dialysis Foundation (IDF), a University of Maryland affiliate, is a more relaxed version of the clinical rotation. There are fewer patients to see and only one disease state to focus on. It is easier to communicate with the physicians and nurses when the staff is smaller and there everyday.

Best Aspects of Working as a Registered Dietitian in Outpatient Dialysis:

1. Build relationships

The patients need to come for dialysis three days a week, and treatment is typically three hours long, allowing for a lot of time to sit and talk with the patient. One day, I had the opportunity to discuss low potassium foods for one hour with a patient who was very interested in learning how to lower his potassium levels. The patients knew all of the employees so when they saw me, they immediately wanted to know who I was and what I was doing.  

2. Focus on one disease state

The registered dietitian discussed labs related to end stage kidney disease, medications, and special diet requirements. All three of these items play a role with one another, and it is unique to renal dietitians to be able to discuss all three with the patient and have the physician in complete agreement. This allows for a conclusive picture of what the patient needs.      

3. See the success of patients

While I was at IDF, a patient who received a kidney transplant and was now off dialysis came into the office to visit the staff. Everyone was so happy to see him. He shared his experience with the kidney transplant and how his quality of life had improved now that he no longer needs dialysis three times a week. Experiencing this makes for a very rewarding day.    

During my renal rotation I experienced a great deal in three days. I provided nutrition education to a variety of patients, explained lab values, and medications to patients. I wrote chart notes for new admissions and quarterly reports. I posted a bulletin board on fluid intake in the lobby and arranged spice samples for patients to take home. This experience sparked my interest in becoming an outpatient registered dietitian and I am very thankful to the dietitian who let me work with her.   

Bulletin Board on Fluid Intake

Spice Samples

Saturday, June 6, 2015

When Opportunity Knocks

As a young girl I remember my mother telling me 3 things-“eat your breakfast”, “do on to others as you would want them to do on to you”, and “never take advantage”.  As the days of the internship continue to pass I think of the lessons I learned from her often. I always eat my breakfast and I always apply the Golden Rule. However, living the life of an intern, “never take advantage” does not quite apply. During a dietetic internship, interns are presented with many opportunities within rotations to take full advantage. The past few weeks alone have been packed with several opportunities for my internship partner Rory and I to do just that…

·         IFIC: International Food Information Council, Washington, D.C., Technology Rotation-
My internship partner and I spent 3 weeks with IFIC, enjoying several opportunities related to the rotation. IFIC is a nonprofit organization that communicates science-based information about food safety and nutrition to professionals and the public. While working with IFIC we were able to take advantage of attending various conferences related to nutrition and public health. Our first week included attending the National Obesity Prevention Conference, while our last two weeks included the National Food Policy Conference and the National Frozen Food Conference.  While attending the National Food Policy Conference we were able to hear Tom Vilsack, Secretary US Department of Agriculture engage conference attendees as the Keynote Speaker. While at the National Frozen Food Conference we learned that frozen foods are a great choice for consumers packed full of nutrients; the food was pretty tasty too!

·         OSSE: Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington, D.C., Community Rotation-
Rory and I spent 1 week with OSSE during our school lunch rotation. Although short, it was very impactful. We learned first-hand the role of dietitians in overseeing, planning, and implementing school lunch programs.  We spent a day with Revolution Foods, a company that provides meals to several Washington, D.C. public and charter schools. We also had the chance to go back to school and participate in a school field trip with John Eaton Elementary! We visited historic Rockland Farms in Poolesville, MD. A farm-to-school grant enabled fourth grade students to visit the farm as they learn about farming, nutrition, and colonialism. While at the farm visitors learned about free range farming, planting and harvesting, composting, and the importance of rich soil for nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. What a great way to combine nutrition education with history curriculum!

·         IDF: Independent Dialysis Foundation, Glen Burnie, MD, Community Rotation-

I spent an amazing 3 days with IDF. Although short, I learned a great deal about medical nutrition therapy in renal care. Dietitians in renal care work closely with patients to educate them on how to transition to a renal diet; but, more importantly understanding what it means to their quality of life. While rotating with IDF I had the opportunity to attend a journal club presentation regarding “Patient Health Beliefs and Factors Associated with Adherence to Low-Phosphorus Diet.” The presenter, John Williams, MS, RD, LDN did an excellent job reviewing the research article, highlighting pertinent information regarding factors that influence or limit patient’s adherence to a low phosphorous diet.  The food was pretty impressive too!   

The opportunities available to take advantage of within the dietetic internship are too many to list in just one blog entry! Rest assured that each one is just as valuable and important as the next. Opportunities afforded to dietetic interns enhance the dietetic experience and offer insight as to how nutrition knowledge is applied in the real world. So remember to always eat your breakfast, apply the Golden Rule, and always take advantage!